Warford here, Editorial Manager for Guitar Tips.
for tuning in to this week's edition of our Guitar Tips newsletter.
Have you ever heard a song that you simply cannot get out of your
head? Perhaps there's that little tune that keeps playing around
in your mind. These little segments of songs are what guitarists
call riffs and they will be our main focus for the next few weeks.
us as we take a look at how you can write original riffs that keep
your audience coming back for more. We'll tell you the steps that
will bring your playing skills and creativity to a new level.
urge all of you to read it as there is a correction on our last
article that you need to know about.
further a due, let's get started!
What You Have
the tools out of your tool box.
the guitar world there is a lot of competition to be original. If
you are a guitarist in a band, the most frustrating obstacle you
will face is finding the songs that will set you apart from all
the rest. Putting aside all of the rules for writing music, the
one thing that will give you a song that your audience will remember
is having a few awesome riffs.
riff is simply a short, repeatable line of music that sticks out
from everything else in the song. You can look at a riff as a signature
on a piece of paper... it identifies the piece of music.
may be thinking, "This sounds great, but I don't have the ability
to think outside of the box like that." The truth of the matter
is that anyone can write an awesome riff.
music industry wants you to think that you can't sound as good as
all of your favorite bands. Yes, many of them do have awesome material,
but the majority of it does not require a music degree to write.
You can use the tools you already have to write original and breathtaking
lines that will blow your audience away.
fact, some of you would do better than your favorite bands if you
took the time to evaluate the tools you already have.
perfect example of this is using the scale patterns covered in our
lesson. Within those scale patterns are hundreds of riffs waiting
to be discovered. Simply taking the most basic of techniques, such
as bends, hammer on's, and pull off's will give you are great variety
you were a carpenter, would you go to work without insuring that
you had all of the tools you needed to complete that day's work?
No. You would double check to make sure you had everything you needed.
The same applies to writing music and riffs. Take a step back and
ask yourself, "What do I do best?"
you can slide around the neck of your guitar like it's nobody's
business, than use that to your advantage when writing riffs. Likewise,
if you have fast fingers, use that to help you develop your own
one warning that comes with all of the above advice is to keep it
short. The longer your riff is, the more likely your audience will
forget how it goes. Even I forget the tune to some of the longer
riffs I write, so how do you expect anyone else to remember the
tune? The most famous songs of the last six decades were all ridiculously
simple and easy to remember.
your first steps.
you dive into anything involving riffs, there are a few simple but
important steps you have to think about. These steps lay the foundation
for success and will make playing your guitar far more enjoyable.
a key. We all love to run to our guitars and play them until
we get something that sounds good. The problem with this is
we will reach a point where we don't know what to do with it
or what notes to play. Knowing what key you are in will solve
these problems instantly. This also allows you to figure out
all of the various scales you have available to you.
through the scales you know in that key. Try the major and minor
scales and see what sound you like the best. If you don't know
what scales are avalable to you in a certain key, check out
last week's article.
using the techniques that you know. Try limiting the number
of notes that you play and keep it simple.
both the lower and higher notes on your neck.
the above and you'll be well on your way to creating a solid riff.
hook is the riff that highlights the chorus. It's the most important
tune you will write throughout the entire song. It also sounds slightly
different from your average riff in the sense that it has the characteristics
of a melody.
that means when translated is that it stands out like a vocal would
stand out. The key to writing a hook is to make it repeatable. That's
why I like to use a few notes. You can use as many as you want,
but it may become more complicated than you would like it to be.
is an example of a simple hook in the key of D:
simple and it's catchy. All of the things you want to look for in
a riff and the hook for your song. The word hook in the above context
literally means to hook your audience into the music.
times you can spice up a riff dramatically by adding in new rhythms
and picking patterns, as seen in our above example.
we took the above riff and added more to it, we would end up with
a melody (something you could sing to). This defeats the purpose
of a riff. While writing melodies is quite fun and very necessary
in song writing, it's not what you want when writing riffs.
are a few riffs to get you started. Enjoy!
the past two weeks many of you have taken the time to write in with
your questions and concerns. Here is a sample of the many awesome
emails we have received over the past two weeks.
writes to us with this great testimonial and question:
quite a good program that you conduct. By the time I started these
lessons I had no idea about notes on the fret board of guitar. Now
I'm playing lead guitarist in band. I thank you as I grab so much
from the lessons. I like to play classical guitar mostly. Can you
please help to play long solos just like Paco De Lucia, Ivan Smirnov?
I have observed that when they play long solos they used to play
the same notes in the scales. Starting from one end and move fingers
so fast and ends it. I think they are playing chromatic or pentatonic
scales in flamenco. Can you help me to play this flamenco style
you for your encouraging words. We can certainly help you with this
style of music. The first step involves learning some of the many
scales you have available to you as a guitarist. The second step
is learning to play them fast. You can look forward to future lessons
on these topics. For lessons on scales you can refer back to previous
lessons in our archive.
Jordan (or should I say Gidday!) I've been reading your latest Guitar
Tips Free Newsletter about pentatonic scale patterns and I have
a query regarding scale #1. If this is a 'C' scale as you suggest
it should not contain any sharps or flats. The pattern you have
shown has Eb,Ab and Bb on the eleventh frets of the E,A,B and E
strings. Maybe I'm wrong but let me know what you think. I read
the Guitar Tips Newsletter every time it arrives - keep up the good
work! Anthony Wenger"
apologies for the confusion. We received a few emails revolving
around our past lesson. There were some typos with the lesson that
could have easily mislead you. I was thinking in terms of a different
scale pattern when I wrote it. You are correct, as are the rest
of you, that there should not be any sharps or flats in the key
correction has been made on the previous lesson and I encourage
you to all re-read it for clarification as the patterns have changed
and you have not read the correct information.
I speak of the key of C, I'm also referring to its relative minor,
which in this case was Am. Theoretically speaking, the proper term
for the series of scale pattern I gave you is based off of the key
of Am (which is the key of C). Both have the same key signature
but different patterns. The relative minor is found by taking the
6th (Submediant) note of the major scale you are working with.
sincere apologies for this overlooked mistake and I thank all of
you who notified us about it. We all make mistakes and I had my
major mistake in the last lesson. To check it out for clarification
incase you have learned it improperly,
sends us this feedback regarding our last site review:
Jordan, Thank you very much for your newsletter. Using the entire
fretborad when soloing is very useful to me. I want to know about
the "Tremolo picking and Palm Muting" Everything in the Free Guitar
Videos is very interesting and answers my questions and doubts.
has this quick question for clarification:
Jordan, Thank you very much for the latest Newsletter. Just a question.
On the Tab there are SEVEN parallel lines, and not SIX representing
the strings of the Guitar. Do I ignore the lowest line (line seven)
and work from the sixth line upwards. My main interest is in Country,
some of the new stuff foxes me. Maybe I am too old at 73 years to
try the more nimble stuff. Ha! Ha! Thanks again. Regards, Denver"
the bottom line, it was used for neatness. It has been removed from
all of our tabs to keep things simple.
you have any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to send us an email!
concludes another edition of our Guitar Tips newsletter. We hope
that you have enjoyed this article and learned something new. Whether
you are an advanced guitarist or a beginner, there are always new
riffs waiting to be discovered.
us next week as we look at building chord progressions to solo over
using the riffs you write. You won't want to miss out on it.
next time, keep on rocking!
BY GUITAR TIPS
If you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar but
never had the chance, give me 17 minutes a day for 90 days
and I'll show you how to play virtually any song you want!